By Josephine Reid
“Another year has come and gone and there’s still need for Equal Pay Day. In the near 20 years since the day was established, there’s not been enough progress on this issue to make the observance obsolete.”
In an article written by physician, public speaker and Virginia's Be Well Medicine founder and CEO, Dr. Lisa Ashe explores the the blatant gap between female African American doctors and their white male counterparts. This article comes on the heels of Black Women's Equal Pay Day which is observed yearly on July 31st.
The article by Dr. Ashe points out various facts and figures regarding this gap. According to LeanIn.org, there is a 37% pay gap between Black women and white men. Lean In, an organization dedicated to the empowerment of women also has reported that on average, women in the United States had to work all of 2016 plus this far into 2017 to catch up to what men earned last year.
The opinion piece written by Dr. Ashe, an African American doctor, was originally published on The Hill. It points out very similar facts to those reported on LeanIn.org regarding the unequal treatment in the workplace, specifically for African American women.
Dr. Ashe reports that coming out of residency, women in most specialties earn nearly $17,000 less than men. This facts holds very true, as TIME Health reported that even though half of all medical school graduates are now women, male doctors can expect to earn an average of $20,000 more than their female counterparts, according to a new study published in JAMA Internal Medicine in 2016. TIME also made the strong the statement by proclaiming that being White instead of Black tacks on an extra $60,000 to your paycheck, according to recent research.
“...for female African-American practitioners, like myself, the gap between these salaries and ours is even deeper and wider.”
Dr. Ashe also writes about facing issues with social interactions and patient confidence. She recalls experiences with patients who have questioned her abilities because of her skin color and prefer to confirm her medical advice with someone else - sometimes even nurses, stemming from these prejudices.
Similarly, there has been reported cases of this kind of prejudice and discrimination, that have even gone as far as a court case. As reported by CNN, nurse Tonya Battle attempted to sue Hurley Medical Center, claiming the hospital agreed to a man's request that no African-Americans care for his baby. According to the lawsuit, the hospital told Tonya that she was being sent home, reassigned, and gave her the exact reasoning. This obviously came as a shock to Battle. This particular case received media attention, but there are many day to day occurrences of this kind of blatant, and sometimes subtle prejudice.
Dr. Ashe offers her advice on working in a world with seemingly preset hurdles, with the suggestion of mentorship among Black doctors.
Although this article is considered an opinion piece, it holds many figures that have been proven as facts time and time again, and offers an example of one human experience that represents an overall experience of many.
"...my challenge to [legislators and the president] is that standards should be set for the minimum salary and benefit requirements for each medical specialty and job type, and there should be a salary increase for primary care providers to help remedy the shortage."
You can read our exclusive interview with Dr. Lisa Ashe here.
Dress A Med loves to care about women pursuing careers in whichever field they may choose. Learn more about our partnership with Facebook's COO Sheryl Sandberg and her project LeanIn.org here. On July 31st, Dress A Med is participating in Black Women's Equal Pay Day by offering a 37% discount.